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Hamartolos
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« on: August 20, 2009, 06:49:58 AM »

This weekend I will be visiting Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Western Pennsylvania.  I received an e-mail from a very kind nun saying it would be fine for me to make a personal pilgrimage there.  Is there a certain etiquette or something in general I should know about Orthodox Monasteries before I visit?   
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2009, 07:24:55 AM »

Long sleeves and legs are expected. Donation to the Monastery would be nice. It would be also good if you didn't flirt with nuns Tongue

I can't recall something more. Each Monastery is different. There are less and more strict ones. Just go and see.
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2009, 08:12:42 AM »

This weekend I will be visiting Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Western Pennsylvania.  I received an e-mail from a very kind nun saying it would be fine for me to make a personal pilgrimage there.  Is there a certain etiquette or something in general I should know about Orthodox Monasteries before I visit?   

Be sure to make specific arrangements with the monastery before going so they will have room for you on the specific days that you will be there.  You can then ask if there is anything you need to know.  Depending on the length of your stay, they may ask you to take on a duty around the monastery to help out.  This is common for stays lasting longer than three days.

One useful thing would be to bring a long skirt that is easily washable, so that if they assign you an outdoor task, you won't have to worry about ruining a nice skirt.
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2009, 08:22:31 AM »

Is there a certain etiquette or something in general I should know about Orthodox Monasteries before I visit?   

Visiting a monastery is a different kind of experience from one country to the next. I mainly stay at monasteries in Romania, and in fact will depart for the weekend to one tomorrow. Here they'll welcome you and demand no money from you, but you'll be expected to do work, from chopping wood to sanding down boards for icons or peeling potatoes. (Bringing a few kilograms of potatoes and leaving behind an envelope with some amount of cash would however go very well).

In Finland, on the other hand, you don't have to do anything in particular, but you will be charged a fairly high fee (minimum 30€) for each day you are there, and you might find it hard to see actual monks. The situation is similar for Bulgarian monasteries and for the Monastery of St Katherine in Sinai.

One thing that I didn't expect the first time I visited a monastery was that one must stay silent at mealtimes. The abbot appoints one of the brothers to read from Scripture, and the focus of everyone while eating should be on that. In general however there is no rule of silence in Orthodox monasteries and if you are doing common tasks with others you're free to make conversation.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2009, 08:26:22 AM by CRCulver » Logged
Hamartolos
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2009, 10:20:56 AM »

Thanks all!  From what the e-mail sent to me said, I was asked to help out with a project along with a group of students from the Pittsburgh area who will be visiting.  I figure why not!?  I'm pretty jazzed...Matins begin at like 7..so I suppose my day will begin around 5 A.M.  I pray this visit will help strengthen me in the faith. 
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2009, 10:37:34 AM »

My wife and I have visited this Monastery dozens of times over the past couple of years. The nuns are very friendly and the services are very beautiful--the heavenly sound of ten nuns singing in unison. The scenery is gorgeous and serene. They have a very large and comfortable library, as well as a very well stocked bookstore with icons and gifts. We are always calmed and strengthened by our visits there. It IS a holy place.

All you need to do is be polite, quiet and behave as if you are a visitor to someone else's home. The nuns will take good care of you.

Enjoy your visit. Let me know your experience there.
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2009, 10:44:51 AM »

I second Cowboy's post.  My family and I have traveled many times from Mississippi to Ellwood City over the last twenty years and it is indeed a holy place.  The abbess says that for those of us in the world, a visit to the monastery is like taking your soul on vacation.  Relax and enjoy your time there.

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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2009, 11:48:32 AM »

Apparently their Matins service is around 2 hrs. long or so!  I'm assuming this is common among monasteries?  Also, when having services (outside of Divine Liturgy, of course) is there always a priest present?
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2009, 12:19:48 PM »

Don't forget to get the abbess' blessing before departure if you have a chance to talk to her before doing so.  Just hold out your hands like for a priest's blessing and she'll present her hand into yours.  Then lean down and kiss her hand.  I was just there for the Feast day of Transfiguration.  We all enjoy our time at Ellwood City, it's a very wonderful monastery.
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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2009, 12:22:09 PM »

Apparently their Matins service is around 2 hrs. long or so!  I'm assuming this is common among monasteries?  Also, when having services (outside of Divine Liturgy, of course) is there always a priest present?

There isn't always a priest present.  If you need to chat about something spiritual talk to one of the mothers.  They are excellent listeners and great to talk to.
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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2009, 01:30:54 PM »

Apparently their Matins service is around 2 hrs. long or so!  I'm assuming this is common among monasteries?

The Matins itself is a bit longer than in many parishes because they read the kathismata, canons, etc., but the main reason it is 2 hours is because they also read other services at the same time (the hours, sometimes the Typika). Most cenobitic monasteries, including those in the Romanian tradition like Holy Transfiguration, tend to hold groups of services at one time. That way, their work day isn't interrupted every 3 hours with another trip to the church.

Also, when having services (outside of Divine Liturgy, of course) is there always a priest present?

At Holy Transfiguration, no. Haven't been there in about 10 years though, so it might have changed. At least back then, it was not the practice of the monastic community to hold formal trapeza. Guests ate on their own for breakfast and lunch, and there was an informal lunch with the nuns.
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2009, 10:53:49 AM »

Is there a certain etiquette or something in general I should know about Orthodox Monasteries before I visit?   

In Finland, on the other hand, you don't have to do anything in particular, but you will be charged a fairly high fee (minimum 30€) for each day you are there, and you might find it hard to see actual monks. The situation is similar for Bulgarian monasteries and for the Monastery of St Katherine in Sinai.

I'm going through posts relating to Finland, and noticed this one. It's a bit old, but I'll comment anyway. I suppose you are talking about the New Valaam monastery in Heinävesi? You can actually visit them in several different ways. The option you were talking about is visiting it as a pilgrim. Then you are not required to do anything, but you pay for your meals and for the nights you stay at the guest house. The second option is to visit it as a voluntary worker. In that case you don't have to pay, but you have to work. In this case you have to contact the monastery in advance.
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